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J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2006 Nov;32(6):1385-402.

Between ignorance and truth: Partition dependence and learning in judgment under uncertainty.

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Department of Management and Organizations, Stern School of Business, New York University, New York, NY 10012, USA.


In 3 studies, participants viewed sequences of multiattribute objects (e.g., colored shapes) appearing with varying frequencies and judged the likelihood of the attributes of those objects. Judged probabilities reflected a compromise between (a) the frequency with which each attribute appeared and (b) the ignorance prior probability cued by the number of distinct values that the focal attribute could take on. Thus, judged probabilities were partition dependent, varying with the number of events into which the state space was subjectively divided. This bias was diminished among participants more confident in what they learned, was strong and insensitive to level of confidence when ignorance priors were especially salient, and required ignorance priors to be salient only when probabilities were elicited (not during encoding).

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